Adonis Diaries

Archive for September 25th, 2008

“Are there moderate Moslems?”

Octobre 26, 2007

It coincided that I was reading chapters of two books concomitantly “Quand l’Amerique refait le Monde” by Ghassan Salameh and “L’apocalypse” by Oriana Falaci   when I realized that the topic of current Islamic fundamentalism is wrecking havoc on the disposition of many western people who tended to be liberal in many issues but could no longer reconcile a liberal attitude toward Islam; mainly the reality of the virulent Islamic behaviors toward strict adoption of the Koranic laws that regulate the daily life for the Moslems and trying to circumvent the civil laws in Europe.

Ghassan Salameh has investigated the genesis of the new trend in the US ruling government toward Islam after the September 11 attack and which was based on the studies of a few “prestigious” American academics on Islam.  Salame stated that the neo-conservative elements in the Bush administration have adopted Bernard Lewis as their guru in matters related to Islam and the anti-Moslem movements.  Professor Lewis was fascinated and excited in the 1950s with everything Islamic and then turned sour, negative and dissatisfied with the Islamic World; he repeatedly claimed in his studies that the Moslems have a rage and a strong tendency to hate the Western Nations as a product of their sense of inferiority complex toward the West and propagated the concept of an invasion to saw the grains of democracy in the Near East.

After the September 11 attack on the Twin Tower, the neo-conservatives like Perle, Wolfowitz, Abrams, and Gaffneys directed the debate toward the confirmation of pre-emptive offensive against the infantile specie of the political regimes in the Moslem World; the notion of an ineluctable conflict of Islam with the USA.  Pipes went as far as eliminating any cause for using cultural instruments in the arsenal of the war.

It is obvious that Oriana Falaci has made up her mind that there are no moderate Moslems, unless they are Moslems by birth but are no longer practicing  believers: simply because the Koran is the Koran and there is no way to interpret the Sourates to coincide with civil laws in the western nations.  Actually, the late Oriana Falaci was a staunch liberal but could not swallow the latest slaughtering of foreign prisoners by extremist Moslems and how Moslem immigrants are flaunting the civil laws in Europe.

Falaci insists that the word “terrorism” is not good enough; the mass media should remain consistent and say “Islamic terrorism”; a term that would satisfy the terrorist Zionists immensely.  Falacy relied on St. John’s apocalyptic vision where a Monster with seven heads and ten corns would emerge from the sea and then the Beast on land would execute all the Monster’s orders. Thus, the Monster is Islam and the Beast is represented by the European liberals and leaders who are trying to appease Moslems and exhorting them to moderation by dangling carrots instead of raising the heavy sticks.

I was surprised by the coincidence to read that Oriana Falaci also adopted the views of Bernard Lewis on Islam and considered him as the ultimate authority for truth on Islamic matters. Apparently, the then 80-years old Lewis and growing more senile by the by, gave an interview to a German daily where he lambasted the West for not believing that radical Islam is the main enemy, instead of the new fascists; Lewis is hammering the notion that all of Europe is going to be Islamist by the year 2100.

Thus, there is a disposition to fit theories that antagonize the Moslem World by accepting as evidence the many terrorist acts perpetrated by extremist Moslems. The vehement attitude of Falaci toward Islam stems from two premises; first, all of the terrorist attacks in the World are perpetrated by Moslems, and second, the practices of Moslems’ behavior in the Western World are based on the teaching of the Koran which cannot be reconciled with the rational civil laws in the western countries they live in.

The first premise may be true if we rely solely on the media accounts that, almost exclusively and consistently, show that the current terrorist attacks in the Western World, such as USA, Spain, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and Holland where “terrorism had struck”, were done by Moslems.  She focused on the terrible acts of slaughtering hostages by Moslem radicals in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Russia.

Falaci forgot to mention that terrorism has also been striking in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Philippine, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Palestine, and Lebanon, to name but a few of the destabilized states, where terrorism was carried by Hindu, Christians, and various Moslem sects against each other castes.

The hidden facts that terrorism is done by the western extremists are not widely publicized and mostly toned down and not taken up relentlessly by the media; for example, the Oklahoma City bombing was first attributed to Moslem extremists and then the US had to admit that it was a purely US extremist act; not to mention the dozen of mass killings in the US schools and universities.  Moreover, most of the western terrorist acts are ordered by the states or committed by organizations supported by the states and consequently not divulged and buried as national security secrets.

Falaci should have recalled the many terrorist acts that ravaged Italy and Germany in the 60s and 70s and committed by the extremist left movements and done by non-Moslems; she also decided to forget the recent decade long terrorism and genocides that plagued former Yugoslavia and which was started by Christians among themselves in self cleansing mechanisms and then cleansing themselves with the blood of the Moslems in Kosovo and Serbia.

Falaci should have taken up also these terrorist occurrences of destabilizing many third world countries, and going on even today, by the US and Israel; she has indeed experienced these Western terrorist acts during her long career as a journalist, but she decided to focus her venom on Islam, thus satisfying the present Western propaganda strategy of misinformation and distortion.

As for the second premise, Falaci poured her venom on those Moslems who claim to be moderate simply because they didn’t join a radical group or didn’t commit a terrorist act but practice awful behaviors.  For example, how can a Moslem claim to be moderate if he prevents his wives or daughters to be integrated in their new societies, ordering them to swim in their “dishdasha” even if this practice is tantamount to drowning, having three wives and treating them as slaves, beating his wives because it is permitted by “Al Shari3a”, killing his daughters because they refused to marry the men that he selected for them, lambasting school directors because they allowed their sons and daughters to be offered sweets containing hints of alcohol, and so on.  Falaci claims that nine out of ten of the Islamic divine inspired laws are opposite to the Italian civil laws, and consequently, there is no possibility of coming to acceptable terms with Moslem believers.

If we recapitulate the history of the world we can demonstrate that almost every religion encouraged terrorist acts throughout history when the goal was to establish a theocratic state, governed by the clerics, or to maintain the power of the religious hierarchy caste over the citizens and the other minority castes.  European history is packed with genocidal periods where the majority of a Christian sect tried to exterminate other secondary Christian sects in France, Spain, Byzantium, Russia, and Germany, to name a few.

The one main factor that permitted the western Christian societies to edge toward rational civil laws and weakens the Christian Orders was that the New Testament dealt only with spiritual doctrines: Christ died before his religion was firmly established and didn’t have to enact laws organizing society when the Roman civil laws were the law of the land.

The major problem with the Moslem religion and its inability to establish rational civil laws for the land is that the Prophet Mohammad vanquished his arch enemy the Koreish tribes in Mecca while still alive and had to re-organize the tribal society with laws emanating from the unique God.

For maybe esthetic reasons, the Sourats of the Koran were organized according to length and not chronologically as logic would dictate; otherwise, the Moslems would have realized that the sourats in the first 13 years of Islam were purely spiritual and not deviating far from Jesus’ teaching.  Actually, whatever variations there are in the two spiritual religions, Islam and Christianity, are identical to the views of the different schisms in Christianity in the early centuries and which provoked mass extermination of the smaller Christian sects by the dominant Christian sects. For example, the status of the Virgin Mary, the duality of Jesus, the Holy Ghost and a multitude of other differences that Byzantium was famous with splitting hair were points of contention among the Christian sects and still are.

If the Koran was divided into two volumes, the spiritual volume related to the first 13 years of its formation and the second volume related to the earthly laws governing the City-State of Medina and then society in the Arab peninsula among the tribes, then communication among the two cultures would have been possible and the Moslems would not have reverted to rigid dogma forced upon them by ten centuries of domination of Central Asian tribes (Mongol Empires) and culminating by their close associated tribe the Ottomans.

As is common among all religions, the religious orders emphasize the earthly concepts that can be impressed upon the believers by attaching heavy burdens on their daily life for total subjugation.  Ironically, Christianity created daily burdens of religious obligations that were not included in the Bible, just to impose its hegemony over the soul of its believers; moreover, Jesus strongly denounced the Jewish Order for the daily heavy burdens they encumbered the Jews with and lambasted the order as a hypocritical order.  Nevertheless, Christianity, whether Roman or Lutheran or Protestant, feverishly created religious obligations that were not in the New Testament but dug up from the Jewish religious books or from the proclamations of the saints and religious leaders to subjugate their members into a tight closed caste.

In general, Christianity is an open religion and the Western Nations in their zest to proselytize their respective dominant religion endeavored to invade the “barbarous” people for the proclaimed purpose of indoctrinating these people into the Christian values; most of these people were subjugated into changing religions nominally but kept their “pagan” traditions.

However, the Christian Maronite sect in Lebanon has reverted to a closed religion and adopted the caste system since the independence of Lebanon in 1943.  The Maronite sect has agreed on a tacit pact with the non-Christian castes not to allow non-Christian members from the other castes in Lebanon to be baptized Maronites; I can testify that even Lebanese living overseas were not permitted to change religion: the Maronite Order made it clear that the process of changing religion is not feasible.  This Maronite Christian sect has sold out its soul to preserve its supremacy as a caste in Lebanon local politics and ended up losing its supremacy in 1989 at the Taef Conference in Saudi Arabia.

Consequently, the divergence between the western societies and the Moslem societies are the result of types of revealed Books; the main Christian Book that basically does not contain earthly laws but were created later by the dominant Christian orders, and the Moslem Book that does specifically include earthly laws for governing societies.

The western societies have succeeded in establishing rational, though debatable, civil laws created by men (women had not yet fully participated in most of these laws); and they don’t have to bend their laws to accommodate Moslem immigrants who are stuck with divine laws to run their daily lives.  This is not to say that the Western World has to adopt pre-emptive strategies of conquering Moslem and Arab countries on the flimsy crusading abstract notion of spreading democracy and the international civil laws when the geo-political reality is clear and is meant to control energy resources and stopping the expansion of China in world politics.

As for the Moslem World, if the purpose of all these upheavals is catching up with the technology of the western societies then the burden resides mainly on accepting the premise that the spiritual doctrines should be separated from the rational civil laws.  Otherwise, if the Moslem World wants to survive under its own set of divine obligations and be ruled my mullah, and sheikhs, and muftis then let it proclaim it openly and unite under this purpose and let the world live as separate entities; societies that instituted civil laws and those insisting on inspired divine laws.

In either case, there is no basic need for forced hegemony of one civilization over another if the human mind cannot device a method for human communication and entente: forced hegemony has never worked or lasted in history and all the evidences are leading to the fact that the current western forced hegemony is failing, unless partitioning the Arab World into cantons is viewed as a definite success of the new pre-emptive strategy; which has nothing to do with cultural differences.

Islam is carrying an insurmountable burden of awkward traditions, not just because of the five centuries of Ottoman domination, but eleven centuries of Moslem Sunni Central Asian tribes that dominated most of the Moslem World, from Mongolia, to Kazakhstan, Kerghizia, Azerbaijan, the Caucasus, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, India, and Turkey.  These hordes have established empires and the local vassals adopted the rigid dogmas and tribal customs of their caste systems.

Any recent reforms undertaken in the Middle East were thwarted by the Western powers to divide these nations and establish theocratic States and dictators most amenable to their creators.  Our inability to change and communicate even internally among ourselves is related fundamentally to our autonomous caste structure.

Falaci was sensing right but she was fighting cancer; anyway, rational behavior is not the rule in this somber period within the Bush Administration, even if many of its leaders seem physically fit, aside of Dick Cheney.

Note:  The proposition that the Sourates of the first thirteen years were spiritual in nature was investigated by Antoun Saadeh in the 1940s and published in a book “Al Islam fi ressalataih al Massihiyat wa al Mouhamadiah” translated liberally as “Islam (Message of Peace) by its two messengers Christ and Mohammad”

Democracy or servitude in Lebanon’s caste system? (October 17, 2007)

I recently read a 125-pages study by Safia Antoun Saadeh that was researched through a Fulbright grant; she visited Harvard University as a scholar for the academic year 1992-93.  I realized that this study was the most condensed comprehensive study of Lebanon social and political structure; it was most instructive and it clearly defined our social and political system that explains our problems and recurring civil wars and may forecast our difficulties in the coming months.

In a nut shell, our society has been gradually and consistently developing a structure based on a caste system (a closed religious sect) through the Ottoman legacy and has been strengthened since our independence in 1943.  The definition of a Caste is that it is a closed system restricted in five elements; first, communities are ranked from high to low and second, it is formed of endogamous groups where marriages is restricted within the caste and intermarriage among caste is socially sanctioned, and third, membership is determined by birth and is inherited and ascribed, and fourth, the group at the top may be the largest numerically, and fifth, mobility is restricted and an individual can move up within the caste and the caste, as a whole, attempts to move up; thus, the frequent rivalry among castes competing to take precedence in the hierarchical ranking.

All these elements actually coincide mostly with the Lebanese social and political structure and, however we understand the concepts of tribalism, feudalism, sectarianism, clan or classes, we end up realizing that they are incomplete models for our structure and are not satisfactory to explaining and forecasting our predicaments.

The contents of “The social structure of Lebanon” by Safia Sadeh starts with the definitions of tribal, sectarian, feudal, and communities, then on the Ottoman legacy in matters of occupation stratification and religious affiliation, then the period of transition in the 19th century, then the social stratification in Greater Lebanon, then society and social structure, then the fate of the State up to the Taef accord, and finally the conclusion.

As the sociology scholar Tonnies stated: “When many use the same language, they must be agreed about the use of names.  This is necessary in science, for science consists in exactly true statements. Every science must therefore start with definitions”  I will define the terms of tribe, sectarian, clan, feudal, community, or class as an appendix; and although they are fundamental in elucidating our social structure, this article will overrun the requirements for publishing and I need to go to the point directly. I did though go into the details in my review for this study

The majority of the Lebanese are unable to trace their lineage as tribes and the exogamy rule has not been applied and clans have been integrated within the caste system. The term sect, taken literally, no longer applies to the current Lebanese situation since we don’t have a theocratic state.  Translating sectarianism by “al ta2ifiyah” is misleading.  There used to be sects in our ancient history when the Nestorians opposed the Byzantine institutional church or when the Shiis, Ismailis, and Druze opposed the Sunni institutional theocratic state.

The Arab East did not develop a feudal system in any of its historical periods; the lords could not acquire big stretches of land that were passed to the first-born following the law of primogeniture by which the whole real estate of intestate passes solely to the eldest son.  First, the Koranic law stipulates the division of inheritance and second, during the Ottoman hegemony lands (Iqta3) were retrieved from the favorite officers at death.

Syria and Lebanon witnessed the beginnings of private ownership on a large scale after the middle of the 19th century, due to the Ottoman reforms.  The only group which was allowed to inherit land under Islamic rule was the religious order and later named (waqf) when citizens gave their lands to the order to avoid taxes or trouble.

When the Ottoman theocratic Empire undertook a few reforms that permitted the ownership of private properties and allowed that stratification might move along class lines then a class of feudal lords emerged and new secular schools were established and a Constitution was proclaimed in the Ottoman Empire that enabled landlords and notables to be deputies.

Usually, the Maronite Christian Order supported the peasant rebellions against the feudal lords to maintain its caste supremacy in Lebanon.  For a time, the lords of different religions would unite to oppose peasant revolts but eventually the caste system vanquished that trend and the lords rallied to their respective castes. Feudal lords would become the upper class within each caste.  Each caste had now its own religious courts, its own members in the representative Council and within the government offices.

In present Lebanon, I believe that a few families acquired huge pieces of land and sold whole villages to head the list of candidates to the Parliament within a caste system; for example, the Solh, Salam, Jumblat, Skaf, Eddeh and so forth.  A few of these landlords sold whole villages to the Zionist Organization.

It is unavoidable to defining a class because of the socialist and Marxist theories. A Class is an open system where individuals are ranked instead of communities and intermarriage is not restricted, and membership is based mostly on economic status and the hierarchy takes the shape of a pyramid, with only an elite or small group at the top but mobility is feasible to moving up through finance and professionalism.  Thus, a class is not just the opposite of caste as a closed system; for example, middle classes in countries are formed of individuals from all castes and have received education and intermingled, and intermarried and feel reasonably acquainted with their status and prospects.  Whenever a middle class is weakened then theocracy and undemocratic political systems take over the ruling of society.  The lower class of the poor and disinherited has never been a leader in any political change.

How did Lebanon end up with a caste system?  Stratification in the Ottoman Empire from the middle of the 16th century and up till the beginning of the 20th was set along occupation in its minutest details and then assigned ranks to the different religious community.  The hierarchical ranking of occupations started with men of the sword (Emirs), men of the pen (Ulama or Mollas), merchants and food producers, then artisans, then peasants, and others. The Ottoman theocracy prohibited mobility and ascribed occupations; for example, the son of a peasant was forced to become a peasant and artisans could not move from one guild to another even within the same occupation. The cities were divided into quarters (hara) representing specific guild corporations (ta2fah) and each quarter was self-contained having its mosque, bath, market and gate to be closed at sunset.

These independent “tawaef” had no communication with each other and were directly linked to the central government through an appointed spokesman or “shaykh”; the hara had the right to arm itself and consequently, this historical custom to find arms in each house.  Each guild was imposed a limited number of shops and competition was not existent and even changes in design or fashion or shape were prohibited.  Each guild was linked to a Sufi order spreading fatalism or nasib or kismet.

The Ulama restricted religious appointments solely to their children and thus became the wealthiest and most powerful caste because they were allowed to own lands and they didn’t pay taxes. The Ulama interpreted and set up the laws for the Empire.  The Moslem or (jama3a) relegated the Christians and Jews to a lower status (zhemmah) and were to pay the poll-tax (jizyah) and the land-tax (kharaj) and other restrictions.  The other non-Moslem sects were severely and relentlessly persecuted such as the Shiites, Ishmaelite, and Druses.

The weakening of the central authority and the aggressive tensions within the guilds between Moslem and Christians and the increased Indian influence (in religion and caste system structure) led to the merging of the two stratifications of occupation and religious orders (millet) and thus the present caste system in Lebanon along religious orders.  The Moslems from India were very influential and overwhelming because the Ottoman Empire cut off trade relations with Europe for a long period and because the Ottoman rulers were originated from Central Asia and the various Sufi movements were Indians by source and indoctrination.

The Christian millet demanded that each Christian sect acquires a separate and independent status and the Porte in Istanbul granted that request which led to the recognition of 17 millets; currently we recognize 18 millets in our political structure to include the alawit caste.  Thus, the identity of the individual is based on his religious community in Lebanon; furthermore, citizens vote in districts (kada2) of their base community and not where they actual reside or work and expatriates have not acquired the right to vote overseas.

Consequently, when the European colonialists were given mandate in the Near East the antagonism was not directed at their economic and financial hegemony but primarily directed on the religious dimension; thus, the Christians of the East paid the heaviest toll as the result of such a perception.

The National Pact of 1943, after the independence of Lebanon, divided the spoil among the two main castes, the Christian Maronite and the Moslem Sunni, which were dominant in the cities and controlled the economy of the country; thus, practically ignoring the rights of the other 15 or so castes until civil wars erupted every 20 years to remind the central government that the State is built on caste structure.  The fact is, just after our independence, and in order to keep the demography of the castes in balance the Christians granted citizenship to Armenians and Christian Palestinians but denied it to the Moslem Kurds and Palestinians. Even a plea by Hoss PM to President Sarkis for a single seat in the Parliament representing a secular candidate was rejected.

Essentially, our civil wars were the result of castes, as a whole, trying to move upward to become at a par with the dominant castes in numbers; for example, the Sunny caste in 1958 demanding equal power along the Maronites and seeking the help of the Egyptian Abdul-Nasser; then in 1975 the Sunny caste siding with the Palestine Liberation Organization in the hope of dominating the Maronite.  In the second half of the civil war, between 1984 and 1989, the Shiites attempted to move upward as a caste.

The internal mobility within caste led to serious changes; for example the political parties of Hezbolla and Amal unseated the traditional Shiite feudal families such as the As3ad, the Hamadeh, the Khalil, and the Osseiran; the Lebanese Forces unseated the like traditional families of Eddeh, Chamoun, and tried to eliminate the Frangieh in the north; it appears that the Gemayel family is on the way out after President Amine lost recently the election against a practically unknown candidate; the Armenian caste that traditionally allied with the Phalange party parted company.  The Hariri party of Al Mustakbal unseated most of the Sunny traditional leaders in Beirut, and with debatable successes in Tripoli, and Sidon.

The current dilemma is that the Sunny caste is trying to hold to its supremacy against the strongly rising Shii3a caste which is more organized, with self-independent institutions and a military wing that checked the Israeli invasion in June 2006 for 31 days. The Shi3a caste is homogeneous and managed to unseat feudalism and regroup in just two parties that coordinate their activities and projects.  The Sunny caste would like very much to initiate a third civil war but was turned down by the Maronite caste because it would be the major loser at the end.  Michel Aoun averted the inevitable civil war, sought after by the Sunny caste and headed by the Hariri clan, by ratifying an agreement with Hezbollah; thus, the Maronite caste being divided then no civil war is feasible.  The second card that the Sunny caste is ready to play is to settle the Sunny Palestinian refugees and eventually to surreptitiously granting them the Lebanese citizenship.  Consequently, the Sunny caste is hoping to recapture the numerical imbalance with the Shi3a caste if they succeed in this plan with the support of the USA and the European nations.

The most striking development taking place is that the Maronite caste is in the process of getting freer from a caste structure because the Patriarch and his council of Bishops are no longer implicitly the main political power within the caste; this whole hoopla of referring to Bkerki as the source of their union is just within the explicit caste structure game, but the Maronite Order is losing its hold on the caste at this junction. Ironically, the Christian Greek Orthodox caste is taking advantage of this situation and doing its best to move upward. The Greek orthodox caste has been basically urbanites and city dwellers for centuries but never formed a militia, nor did they have powerful feudal lords; their professional elites mostly joined secular political parties.  However, they established a University and the Majlis al-Millah decided to discuss and take concerted action on the current political issues and ordered their three ministers in the government not to abdicate.

I think that the Armenian caste is on the move up after defeating the government’s candidate, President Amine Gemayel, in the Metn election. I believe that the Armenian caste wanted revenge because the Hariri clan sidelines it during the last two elections in Beirut.  The assassinated Rafic Hariri PM game was to divide and weaken the adjoining castes in Beirut in order to have absolute hegemony of the Sunny caste in the Capital which he considered himself the sole leader; and thus he didn’t include the Armenian caste candidates on his electoral lists and preferred to select individual Armenians with no support from their caste.

This system of caste translates integrally into State bureaucracy.  In 1955, competitive examinations for civil service positions was replaced by a pass or fail qualification so that the best applicants would not know that the position was taken by a lesser qualified candidate just to fill the castes quotas.  The most damaging consequences is that the hired civil servant considers that he owns his position to the head of the caste and is not subjected to his superiors in the bureaucratic hierarchy. Thus, every firing of incompetent civil servant is viewed as directed at the caste as a whole! Once a position is filed then the functionary has to fulfill all the requirements and demands of his caste before catering to the other tasks.  In 1992, after the Taef constitution, a bizarre Maronite Minister of Education hired 300 Maronite employees from his home town and in one sweep; the caste system resolved the problem by allowing each ministry to appoint a similar number of his own caste!

It is known that the Defense Minister Michel Al Murr was not bashful when he refused to enlist Shiites who reached the age of 18 in the compulsory training simply because they would tilt the balance of 50/50 between Christians and Moslems!

The most damaging institution that has prevented any modernization and led to the strengthening of the caste system is the judiciary of the personal status laws.  Each millet or in our case caste follows its own laws concerning birth, death, marriage, divorce, adoption, and inheritance.  Each religious caste has developed its own courts whose verdict the state is obliged to execute.  The castes have become independent legal entities. The Lebanese state cannot implement reforms in these laws to place them in tune with a modernized society, nor do the religious institutions change the law as the later is considered sacred.  Two failed attempts were made, one in 1936 and the other in 1951, to force the different religious organizations to submit their status laws so that the government can examine them.  In 1952, the Lawyers’ syndicate announced an open strike for civil marriage to be initiated and a civil secular code to replace the various personal status laws.  The strike had to be ended after three months.

The various religious agencies holding both economic and legal power became formidable political institutions that oversee the interest of its members.  Remnants of the Ottoman system the Sunni “mufti” gets his salary from the Lebanese government and all judicial decisions by the Sunnis are published in the “Official Newsletter” issued by the government.

Moreover, this caste system reach an agreement whereby no Christian can inherit from a Moslem, and vice-versa, and thus a non-converted mother cannot bequeath her inheritance to her own children!  Our caste system allows our women to marry foreigners of the same religion but forbid marrying a Lebanese of a different religion.  Historically, a Moslem woman was prohibited from marrying into another religious group but the Christian caste could permit it until the unbalance in the demography restricted it and made it very difficult.  Both internal and external social controls are used in deterring the individual from breaking a specific prescribed behavior. One major factor in the establishment of a caste is the rule of non-exchange of women.

Consequently, the religious orders in Lebanon have acquired the status of caste because the jurisprudence in matter of personal status laws has been relinquished to them by the central government.  Conversion is made extremely difficult among orders by mutual agreement, except for political reasons and within the Christians castes to fill the quota in government offices.  Intermarriages among castes are not common and civil marriages had to be done in Cyprus or elsewhere for the government to accept the marriage according to an existing civil status law enacted during the mandate period.  Generally, males have a much easier allowance to inter marry outside the religious caste.

We, the Lebanese, are denied equality under the law of the land because it does not exists; we are like turtles carrying our baggage over our back and have to be subjected to the traditions of our respective religious castes, a system that is far reaching and follows us wherever we reside.  We are denied freedom to change religion, to change electoral district, to change our names, to work anywhere we chose to and to associate with whatever groups that matches our modern values. We are denied a democratic process based on peaceful transitions from allegiance to caste to allegiance to a rational State that abhors theocracy in any form or shape and release the citizen from his bondage to work toward a modern way of life over all the Lebanese territory.

The way I forecast the next political steps stems from my understanding that first, the Sunny caste is the most conservative among the caste and will be the last one to forego its privileges and this system; second, the Shi3a caste is the most homogeneous, most numerical, and self sufficient but wary of the combined efforts of the western nations and Israel to destabilize its supremacy and needs reassurances from the Christian castes not subject it to further harassment and displacement; and third there might be a tendency for the Christian castes to unite within a process of modernizing the system as the only viable alternative for survival in the future; and fourth the realization that, except for the Sunny caste, it would be beneficial for all the concerned parties to unseating Walid Jumblat as the sole feudal lord within the Druze caste.

The Christian Maronite sect in Lebanon has reverted to a closed religion and adopted the caste system since the independence of Lebanon in 1943.  The Maronite sect has agreed on a tacit pact with the non-Christian castes not to allow non-Christian members from the other castes in Lebanon to become Maronites; I can testify that even Lebanese living overseas were not permitted to change religion: the Maronite Order made it clear that the process of changing religion is not feasible.  This Christian sect has sold its soul to preserve its supremacy as a caste in local politics and ended up losing its supremacy in 1989 at the Taef Conference in Saudi Arabia.

Although the office of President of the Republic, conferred to the Maronites, is no longer that powerful after the Taef Constitution; the current maneuvering is intended to come to an agreement as to the next stages of transforming this caste system and giving the Lebanese citizens a new doze of anesthesia until the plans and logistics for a new round of civil war are completed.  Unfortunately, the secular forces are not coordinating their activities commensurate to the dangerous climate that is being fomented.  The dynamic middle class in Lebanon has fled, for no return, and the existing one is too dispersed, weak and almost totally swallowed by the caste system.

The changes might seem insurmountable, but nothing is impossible with the will for survival.  A grass root movement of all the religious groups and led by the current middle class and syndicates, supported by the dual citizens of Lebanese origin, has to educate the disinherited citizens and to rally the secular forces and parties and to promote a program for a change in our archaic system into modernism. This movement needs to destroy the barriers against interrelationship to implement the following program:

First, removing the power from the religious hierarchical orders by the following successive steps: starting by forcing the different religious organizations to submit their status laws so that the government can examine them; then initiating a program to institute civil marriage law and a civil secular code to replace the various personal status laws; and then taxing heavily the religious “waqf” as lucrative financial and economic entities.

Second, a voting system that institutes for two parliaments: the Popular Parliament where a single deputy is selected by the majority of votes for each restricted district (no lists of candidates, please) and the National Parliament by the proportional method and the candidates are selected by the political parties and where women are to acquire a quota of half the numbers in the National Parliament after the second election.  The total of the two parliaments should not exceed 122 deputies.

Third, a decentralization of the government where the re-drawn Mouhafazats, with access to the sea, might enjoy much wider responsibilities with the appropriate budget to cater for the social and economic well being of their citizens.  Encouraging competition among the Mouhafazats is a must and their corresponding budgets to be commensurate to their profitable investments and efficiency in saving money.

I decided to include the definitions of clan, tribe, sect, feudalism, and community so that the reader might judge on the correct description of Lebanon’s social and political structure.

A Clan or settled Tribe must first be based explicitly on a unilinear rule of descent, it then must have a residential unity, and third, it must exhibit actual social integration.  The clan is independent and has a homogeneous system; it is a self-sufficient unit and is not ranked into higher and lower.  The majority of the Lebanese are unable to trace their lineage and the exogamy rule has not been applied and clans have been integrated within the caste system. Thus the tribal theory is inadequate in explaining the complex political, social, and economic picture of Lebanon.

Sects, by definition, welcome a voluntary membership by conversion, as individuals are free to adhere to a specific religious sect once they believe in its tenets. A sect has come to denote a religious conflict society which arises in opposition to an institutional church. The term sect, taken literally, no longer applies to the current Lebanese situation since we don’t have a theocratic state.  Translating sectarianism by “al ta2ifiyah” is misleading.  There used to be sects in our ancient history when the Nestorians opposed the Byzantine institutional church or when the Shiis, Ismailis, and Druze opposed the Sunni institutional state.

Feudalism means that lords have acquired big stretches of land that were passed to the first-born following the law of primogeniture by which the whole real estate of intestate passes solely to the eldest son.  The lords were opposed to the peasants who owned no land.  The Arab East did not develop such a system in any of its historical periods. First, the Koranic law stipulates the division of inheritance and second, during the Ottoman hegemony lands (Iqta3) were retrieved from the favorite officers at death.  Syria and Lebanon witnessed the beginnings of private ownership on a large scale after the middle of the 19th century, due to the Ottoman reforms.  The only group which was allowed to inherit land under Islamic rule was the religious order and later named (waqf) when citizens gave their lands to the order to avoid taxes or trouble. Thus, historically at least, the feudal theory cannot hold in Lebanon structure. Though, in present Lebanon, I believe that a few families acquired huge pieces of land and sold whole villages to head the list of candidates to the Parliament within a caste system; for example, the Solh, Salam, Jumblat, Skaf, Eddeh and so forth.

Community revolve around three elements that are intimately interconnected: the element of descent which focuses on blood and kinship ties and where “family” life is the general basis or life; then the element of soil exemplified by the village community, and finally the element of occupation centered into guilds, corporations and offices.  Strangers may be accepted and protected as serving members but not easily as agents and representatives of the community. Usually, village communities have not been ranked historically on a scale of higher to lower.  Lebanon did not enter fully the era of communities and furthermore in our villages, communities are ranked leading to a quasi-caste situation.

A Class is an open system where individuals are ranked instead of communities and intermarriage is not restricted, and membership is based mostly on economic status and the hierarchy takes the shape of a pyramid, with only an elite or small group at the top but mobility is feasible to moving up through finance and professionalism.

Are We Exercising Good Judgments? (March 23, 2005)

A woman friend of mine e-mailed a joke undersigned by a certain Diana.

My friend is bright and could be considered an expert in graphic design.

She is proud of being a good character assessor.

Unfortunately, she never directed her attention to politics, reading newspapers or listening to news.

The joke in a nut shell goes as follow:  A Syrian teacher asks her student children: ” who is Syrian in my class?”.

All except one girl raise their hands. To the teacher query the child answers that she is a proud Lebanese.

The teacher asks her who she might be if her mother is an idiot and her father is an idiot.

The child replies: “Then possibly I could have been a Syrian”.

I sent my response promptly to my friend saying:

“I vigorously deleted your stupid joke disseminated from the idiot of a Diana”.

When later I confronted her she said: “But Diana is not the one who wrote the joke”.

I said: “I think you missed the point.  Whoever is participating in disseminating chauvinistic politics is an idiot”.

If the so called joker was a wee bit funny and intelligent he might have jumped on the important Kadhafi’s speech in the Arab summit in Algeria yesterday.  A large chunk of this speech was rambling to my opinion but very enlightening.

Kadhafi, the leader, or President or Zaim of Libya, said that the Israelis are idiots and the Palestinians are also idiots; he expounded on his rational and generated hilarious laughter from the leaders of the countries attending the summit. Kadhafi said if the Gaza Strip and the West Bank were so important to Israel then why didn’t Israel grab them when they declared their one-sided independence in 1948?  If the Palestinian wanted so badly the West Bank and Gaza then why didn’t they hold on to these lands after the independence of Israel?

Suppose the joke was formulated such as the teacher asked the child: “If you were the kid of a Palestinian idiot mother and of an Israeli idiot Father, what you think might be your nationality?”

Now, if the child replied: “Most probably, I would be called Syrian” then the joke might have made me laugh enormously. The joke might sound triply chauvinistic but at least it might highlight the miserable political dilemma the Near East States are confronted with.

I would not rule out the assumption that most of the world considers the Near East people as idiots which does not confirm that the others are not idiots as well.

Chauvinistic and sectarian jokes that are disseminated nowadays are debasing to the disseminators first and demeaning to the unsolicited receivers. These kinds of jokes cannot be categorized under the free expression umbrella because the receivers did not demand to be shared with these sickening minds and petty emotions.

My position is that if the so called enlightened persons do not exercise good judgments in this dangerous political period and allow these kinds of chauvinism and sectarianism to pass under the excuses of jokes, then how are we supposed to create a modern society and participate in a just and fair system for all the citizens?

Many citizens who are not politically oriented are succumbing to the influences of petty chauvinistic environments at work, at home, and in nationalistic gatherings and demonstrations.  This emotional climate is not generating a cultural revival.

May 14, 2007

So, who won? Israel or Hezbollah? Or are we asking the wrong question?

Thomas Friedman has written an article a few days ago claiming that Israel has won the July War tactically, strategically and politically. The Israeli daily Yedeot Ahronot is adopting this position in an attempt to win over the shattered Israeli morale. That Israel had won tactically by destroying extensively and hatefully the headquarters and the military and social installations of Hezbollah and weakening it temporarily is not a big feat given the military imbalance in the kind of air and naval superiority with the full backing of the US and the treachery of the Arab States.  Israel foreign minister Sevy Livney declared that in the first two days the targets in the Israeli intelligence data bank have been exhausted and she urged Olmert to end the war on the third day.  That Olmert felt emboldened to resume the war for another 30 days and accepting a cease fire without effectively reaching the Litany River means that the purpose of the war was modified at the urge of external powers to eradicate the Lebanese Resistance and shatter the image of the invincible Hezbollah.

That Israel had won strategically because its northern borders have been very quiet for seven months is a half truth; the international UN forces are there because Hezbollah allowed its deployment and the borders have been very quiet since Israel withdrawal from the south in May 24, 2000.  The few encroachments were the results of Israeli incursions in Lebanon and Hezbollah reacted only on these infiltrations or attacks within our borders. That Israel had to stop its incursion in Lebanon with all the backing it was enjoying is a fact that its strategy was foiled and severely checked.

That Israel has won politically because the Lebanese army has entered the south is also a half truth because Hezbollah didn’t mind the deployment of the army which saved it from further escalations and unwanted pressures from the UN and the need to focus more on the internal affairs of Lebanon.  The immeasurable popular support from the Arab and Moslem citizens for Hezbollah’s valiant resistance is by no means a political victory for Israel but a severe defeat for the rekindling of the resistance spirit in the Arabs.  The inability of Israel to squelch the second Palestinian “intifada” is rooted in the rejuvenated spirit of resistance in Palestine as well as in Iraq.

Certainly, Hezbollah has been weakened and the Lebanese Seniora’s government has been doing its utmost to capitalize on that fact and dragging Hezbollah in the morass of Lebanon’s political quagmire. The “illegitimate” Lebanese government is deliberately rekindling tough issues that have been agreed on during the round table before the July War and giving them a diabolical twist on the basis that the devil is in the details. The Moderate Arab States (a euphemism for traitors States who encouraged Israel to eradicate Hezbollah) are harnessing their widespread communication media to dissipate the popular support for Hezbollah and labeling it as merely an Iranian stooge and working against the interest of the Arabs who want peace and prosperity with Israel.

Hezbollah must have learned a great deal from this unilateral stand against Israel but there is a most important message that Hezbollah failed to get.  It is extremely dangerous for Hezbollah’s charismatic leader Hassan Nasr Allah to swear on promises (Wa3ad) that are long-term in nature for their realizations and feeling pressured to deliver them almost immediately. For example, the last promise to repair and rebuild what has been destroyed almost instantly and with “pure” money is too impractical and fraught with decisions that extend the capabilities of Hezbollah beyond its limits and weaken it in the process.  The other example was a promise before the war to snatch a few more Israeli soldiers as prisoners in order to liberate the remaining three Lebanese who have been detained for more than 15 years; it is laudable to make such kind of promises but when it is uttered in a “divine” revelation by Nasr Allah himself it becomes very binding and communications with Hezbollah’s allies become tenuous. It is dangerous to rely on Nasr Allah to publicly force decisions, as if emanating from a prophet, and to clarify issues that should be left to the leadership and its allies within the political process.  It is inadmissible for Nasr Allah to appear during religious celebration to deliver political speeches that give the opposite results and reflect images of increased weaknesses for relying on the religious faith and passions of its supporters instead on the rational and deliberate mind that our society is in dire need to overcome a strong enemy.

I believe that people are asking the wrong question.  It is not whether Hezbollah has won the war because just by getting out strong and effective after 33 days of a savage war of eradication with no serious support internally or externally is a striking victory.  The question should be whether the US-Israeli-“Moderate” Arabs States objectives have achieved any tangible results.  Nasr Allah has claimed that not a single objective came out satisfactorily and definitely, tactically, strategically, and politically, in Lebanon or in the Greater Middle East. The response should be focused on refuting his claims, satisfactorily and convincingly.


Why the invasion of Iraq? Because of China! (May 3, 2007)

I am sick and tired reading whole books about the two dozens probable causes for the invasion of the US to Iraq.   Most of these causes sound as by-products or side consequences that belittle the over one million dead and as many Iraqis injured.  It is hubris to maintain that the whole US administration is a bunch of Christian Conservatives with religious agenda and that every one in the administration and policy makers was fouled about the real objective of this invasion. It hubris to believing that the intelligence of the CIA and other European and Russian sources of surveillance of the non availability of arms of mass destruction to Saddam Hussein were not confirmed. 

Some Arab leaders went as far as claiming that George W. Bush was forced to divulge the real aim as drawing the Al Qaeda terrorists into Iraq instead of the USA soil, as if Afghanistan was not the ideal place to draw, encircle and fight Al Qaeda.  The invasion of Iraq was in fact the center policy, though non public, of the Bush team for the Republican candidates’ selection campaign: this invasion was planned and executed because of the economical expansion of China, period. 

China was the only giant capable to effectively check the world hegemony of the USA even before the fall of the Berlin Wall.  China is becoming fast the biggest importer of oil and has been investing heavily in Africa, in oil fields of Sudan, Nigeria and the Congo.  China’s balance of payment with the US is positive in the hundred of billions of dollars and the biggest importer of technologies and the largest exporter of the affordable items of every kind.  

The US wanted to physically control the largest oil reserve in the world so that it could pressure China to continue buying the US bonds and infuse the US treasury with unlimited amount of liquidity, in an economy suffering from chronic deficit by the trillions of dollars.  The US wanted to continue the control of the oil market price, raising it when China export more to the US and lowering it when China encourages importation of US goods and services.

It is the same old control of market prices that the colonizing powers exercised for centuries.  In 1923, the USA forced Great Britain to repay the guaranteed loaned to the Balkan countries during WWI; Great Britain obliged and the USA realized that this Empire was actually repaying money generated from the private US citizens.  How?  It turned out that Great Britain was the sole exporter of rubber from its colonies in India and Malawi and it kept increasing the prices of caoutchouk (rubber) and the Ford Motor company had to pay the price and the US citizens had to buy cars at a higher price for the increased cost of tire production .  This was the primary cause that the US multinationals forced Congress to change the laws of land ownership in the US colony of the Philippines so that these multinationals might grow caoutchouk trees on vast areas.

The invasion of Iraq was bipartisan with the tacit agreement of the Democratic Party and the major US news media.  The main G8 economical powers knew exactly the main purpose of that invasion but it is taboo to hang the dirty clothes in front of the third world to see, even for their own citizens: France, Germany and Russia had heavy commercial interests with China and made sure that the UN would not give a green light for that enterprise.  The US and Britain undertook it on their own; Blair had to lie to his citizens through his teeth because he could not let the US down at the expense of irking China.

What was to be a slam dunk affair turned sour after three years in the Iraqi morass; the US people coughed up already a trillion dollars with no tangible returns except a few billions dollars contracts for rebuilding Iraqi infrastructure by a few US and British companies such as Halliburton.  The Iraqi oil fields were to increase its production to over 3 million barrels a day but it is barely exporting half a million as of 2006; the US was to keep troops in Iraq but this is becoming very doubtful. It appears that the US has to settle for a Federated Iraq instead of a central government at its direct order and, at least, the US might enjoy total control of the oil production in the Kurdish enclave of Mossoul and Kirkuk.  The southern Shiaas who were becoming Iraqi nationalists are reverting to an Iranian control of influence as it has been historically. 

Israel was the only winner so far in that masquerade of weakening a central Iraqi government but could not achieve total victory because the 2006 July War against Hezbollah and Lebanon resulted in a debacle and a resurgence of the resistance spirit among the Islamic and Arab peoples.  The Olmert PM government is teetering and Israel political structure based on militarism is undergoing a serious revision.  The USA has realized that Israel is no longer a viable heavy stick it can rely on to scare off the resistance to further expansion, oppression, and apartheid policies.

The strategy of the US to have physical control of the oil fields in Iraq could be understood in a global world hegemony policy but the tactics were flawed, ill conceived and immature. How could you expect 140,000 invading soldiers, totally ignorant of the language and the culture of the Arabs and Moslems and who have been bombarded for four decades of heavily skewed propaganda describing Arabs as illiterate, pre-historic and terrorists, to behave as a civilized army?  This invading army entered Iraq as if coming to an exotic territory, already terrified and terrifying a whole population by brute and nervous heavy handedness, shooting at civilians, torturing randomly, flaunting the Geneva Convention code of conducts in occupied territories; behaviors that were frequently described as psychotic reactions to an unwelcome land. 

What was to be a slam dunk US invasion turned out a slam dunk opportunity to the Chinese government because China signed lately an important energy agreement with Russia; a 3,000 kilometer oil pipeline is underway and 500 kilometers are already achieved.  China has also infiltrated Africa with heavy investment in energy and rare minerals fields and the US is now highly eager to replace the European Union for high tech export items to China in order to lure increased bond liquidity in its coffer and reduce its commercial balance of payment with the vast country experiencing the strongest rate of development in this decade.

Twenty Kitties around Josephine (Written in November 2002)

I met her at the Zanzibar, a dancing night club.

A club in a hole of a University town.

I’m told the town has expanded so much it is almost a city.

Fate of any town, close to a major city.

She was with a couple of her girlfriends,

Like them, in their late thirties’ or mid-forty’s.

Josephine was pretty, skinny with reddish long hair.

She was looking surreptitiously at me and I invited her for a dance.

We danced a lot, crazily,

And the slow dances were slow, tight and erotic.

We had a date the next day.

She came a little late as it should be.

Josephine parked her old, heavy, noisy and yellow American car

In front of my apartment complex.

It was my friends’ apartment from Tunisia and Morocco.

They were on an extended trip.

She just had had her hair cut short a la garcon, a major let down.

She was wearing a short white, very short and thongs.

Her legs were very skinny

And her skin was English white and pink around the knees.

I felt a surge of shame:

A lady her age should have a moderate sense of modesty.

People might rightly assume a money transaction in that visit, which was not.

Josephine inspected the premise quickly and indicated a room of her liking.

I objected lamely that my friend might object and she did not insist.

We went to the living room and she took off her scant cloths.

We threw pillows on the gray carpet for bed.

Abruptly, Josephine proposed the back intercourse, position and hole.

I recovered my senses while reasoning that there is always a first after all.

She leaned over a sofa

And I enjoyed the view of her smooth, round and pinkish behind.

That part of hers looked in her twenties in that posture.

In the meanwhile, I asked her if she is enjoying it.

“Not really, it is as I need to shit.” She said.

A serious inquiry was appropriate since she proposed this position.

I refrained at the last second feeling quite sure

That Josephine had idiosyncrasies about Arabs’ preferences.

We moved to our makeshift bed and resumed a long late foreplay.

We were tender, affectionate and delicate.

Josephine proposed a joint and I admitted that a unique draw is enough for me.

I recall the first time I smoked a joint.

I was in a convertible Alfa Romeo with two guys.

We were heading toward the lake at a summer night.

My friends were having a great time, speeding and listening

To “Leila”, a guitar song played by Eric Clapton.

They laughed a lot

And I had a hell of problems keeping the lids of my red eyes open.

I twice experienced smoking a joint in groups, never alone,

To train myself for a better fit among smokers.

Once, my friends had to leave without me to see a movie and dance.

When they returned 4 hours later,

I was still lying on the sofa, my eyes closed shut, listening to music,

Trying to differentiate the timbers among the different musical instruments.

The third instance was in a park, close by my apartment,

Enjoying an afternoon open concert in a beautiful summer day.

I woke up the park empty and dark already.

I walked my bike home.

Josephine finished off the joint in a delicious rapture.

I discovered the positive side effects of taking one draw:

I felt myself a regenerated stud to the satisfying appreciation of Josephine.

We had another go at love and I bathed in her glowing face and young smile.

I understood then the saying: “Love makes young”.

She had finished a second joint and I inhaled one puff.

I inserted a finger, then a second, then a third.

She was moaning softly and continuously.

When my whole tiny hand was in her,

Her moaning rose to an additional octave for a long time

And I got scared.

I asked her whether she was all right.

She opened her eyes as from a long dream.

I felt stupid and regretted cutting short whatever she was experiencing.

I also regretted the deficiencies of males in that pleasurable sport.

Josephine told me that she is keeping two dozens of cats in her home.

She had a name for every cat.  She is well versed

On the psychological character and behavior of every single cat of hers.

I felt curious and asked her when am I going to visit her.

She categorically denied me any visit and I felt totally relieved.

I intended not to tell my friends about this visit

But the Moroccan guy found out from a girl friend of his.

He was pissed off and I exacerbated the situation

By gloating that we tried every corner of the apartment, including his bed.

My Moroccan friend avoided me then for months.

He did not feel handicapped about pissing in the lavatory.

I didn’t mind:  I believe they had started treating waste water.

Josephine introduced me to her married son at Zanzibar.

It was a planned surprise from her.

Her son behaved properly and shook my hand.

Josephine invited me to her girlfriends’ house too.

She was fluttering around the place chatting and singing.

She was displaying her beau.

She sat on my laps, hugged me and kissed me all the while.

I felt intimidated and absolutely awkward.

I sat stiff and stoic.

I could not join the group in their intimate relationships.

I felt a certified self-centered ignoramus

Amid lively butterflies, though older and oversized.

I am sorry that I failed befriending these ladies, real ones for a change.

Josephine moved with a black man,

A handsome, friendly addict and a drug pusher.

He lived at her home with the kitties around.

Marvin ended up in prison 

And Josephine had to bail him out.

Josephine was alcoholic but she was fighting courageously

For her rights to have the most pleasures in this lifetime.

She won the battle.

Josephine learned not to discriminate against origins, races or colors.

 Songs for Women (Jan. 2003)

 

My songs are for the divorced women, widowed and singles with children.

Still sexually active unmarried women.

My songs are short stories  

Lacking imagination, of a grateful man, 

Short on feelings.

 

From all kinds of literatures I like short stories best.

Shorter than nouvelle and personal.

The perfect short story should generate two strong emotions:

It should make you cry laughing,

It should make you cry hating or loving

Same difference.

 

Songs for women, who were my teachers in matters of love, 

Loving and feelings unknown to me, 

Much of them still a mystery to me.

Songs of remembrances, for my own sake,

Trying to connect the strings of feelings among these relationships.

 

Each song has a single heroine and a single name, as it should be.

Names of children are sometimes added,

My way of praying forgiveness for my lack of attention to them,

For most of the duration of the relationship.

 

My way to say that I am sorry for failing to consider

The integrity and totality of the heroine’s life.

My way of admitting that the deficiencies were all mine,

A man from the outside looking in and ignorant

Of the new rules in this old game.

 

Songs for the women, who gave the best of their loving to men,

So Man could grasp the essence of life. 

Songs for women, who need to be remarried for love,

With a man capable of learning a new gamut of feelings,

With a man thankful of discovering a wealth of emotions,

With a man becoming whole lest the cynicism of old age creeps in.

 

Songs for Women (continue, Jan. 2003)

 

      I am still an outsider looking in the adult world.

I still abhor the maintenance part of life,

     The mechanics of living and lasting relationship.

I am scared of owning a house,

    Of getting married and keep maintaining choices 

I can’t sustain for long.

 

May be that I was not trained properly as a child

     To learn taking responsibilities by learning to maintain.

The adult world is still a curiosity to me

     Because, when the time was due to step in,

It was too late for me to learn a new set of behaviors, 

    In a totally different society, alien to me.

I like to discover the adult world and pay the price

    Of my practical ignorance, but it should be at my own expense.

But, could anyone else not share the expenses in my miseries?

    Indeed, the village will bear the upkeeps and it refuses to admit it.

I am positive that I never fell in love, love shared.

 

My mother is convinced that I ran away to the USA

    Because of a spurned love affair.

 I still cannot tell my mom that she is mistaken, 

    I cannot confirm her suspicions that

 Her adored eldest son is a certified monster.

   I might not believe in Heaven,

   But people like I, Hell was created for them, here on earth.

Great Teachers (1998) 

1.   I have no musical ears.

I tried to learn and read notes.

My classmates waited my turn to listen to me sing:

They had fun every time.

That was a long time ago,

And it was too late, even then

2.   I have been told that Maestros can allow a mistake

At the beginning of a piece,

That they can forgive a wrong note

In the middle,

But the ending has to be perfect and glorious.

3.   Great teachers can see the end products of their students.

Their job is to discover the inner potentials of their students.

Then, they make them repeat the endings

Until tears of boredom and despair are running,

Until they master the ending,

Flawlessly and grandly.

4.   Great teachers don’t care about the beginning of an assignment:

All it takes is one step.  We can take one step.

Great teachers don’t care about finishing a task:

We can, somehow, make a task end.

Great teachers are after how much human life

You’ve got inside you.

5.   How much human life have you got inside you?

Only you can know yourself:

That is not an Earth shattering truth.

You will never know yourself

As long as there is a soul in you.

Reinvent yourself and then, repeat, repeat, and repeat.

6.   While you reinvent yourself,

It does not matter

How soon death comes,

Or how great

People think you are.

You died perfect and in glory.

Funny Bliss (Written in 1998)

      Twain is a funny guy.

He was frustrated, at fourteen, with his father’s ignorance.

At twenty, how dumb struck he felt

That his father could be such a quick learner.

I was thirteen and I wrote:

What do I know?”

My old French teacher loved it.

He said the French essayist Montaigne used it.

At fifty, I said:

“I feel I know nothing”.

My thirteen year old niece skewered her eyes and mumbled:

I am embarrassed, what a loser!”

Feasting on Gore (Written in1999)

1.   X-rays don’t hurt: no pain.

Chemo is different: You lose your mane.

Cancer, hospital appointment, hospital confinement, terminal.

Convicted criminal, prison, delayed execution, terminus.

2.   Dressed in apron, back naked, abandoned, and forgotten;

Robbed of your money, robbed of dignity, and robbed of life.

A case study you are, for all to learn.

The more cases the better the knowledge.

3.   You lived; lived enough.  Let others learn and live, a while longer.

The “right to live folks” need to hang the Kevorkians,

Every single one of them:

They help the terminally ill to die with his own choice.

4.   Pain, constant pains, no end in sight, no cure.

Wait till the healthy, spineless soul of the “right to live” maniacs

Needs a Kevorkian,

But will be surrounded with pale faces feasting on gore.

5.   I have the power to predict the end.  I know the odds:

You either die instantly or you live,

In the mind of all you know,

A half-man.

6.   You may listen to the pillars of moral characters,

You may nod to the Talking Heads:  They talk well.

I have decided on my destiny.

It shall be quick.

 


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

September 2008
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